In challenging economic times, mining companies are looking to ‘sweat’ their assets, and a key cost management strategy in this endeavour is the implementation of sustainable cost management programmes with structured and proactive maintenance programmes, says mining, materials handling and minerals processing solutions provider TAKRAF Africa client support services GM Paul Davies.
“Mines are increasingly moving away from one-off cost reductions and recognising the long-term benefits of programmes that emphasise the timeous identification of potential causes of future mechanical breakdown and allow for preventive maintenance or remedial action to be planned and implemented.”
However, with a degeneration of skills – not only in South Africa, but worldwide – affecting mines’ capacities to carry out regular maintenance and perform in-house equipment servicing, Davies highlights that there has been growing demand for maintenance contracts provided by original-equipment manufacturers such as TAKRAF Africa.
“TAKRAF Africa has, thus, been sought out in many cases to fill the skills gaps at mines and ensure the proper maintenance of equipment. These services are tailored to suit the type and extent of a mine’s needs and can range from fully fledged maintenance contracts to the supervision of maintenance projects.”
TAKRAF Africa also emphasises the importance of using original-equipment spares to ensure that machines are maintained to a high level to provide the longest possible life.
Davies adds that refurbishment and upgrade services also play an integral role in ensuring safety at mines, as well as environmental compliance and improved energy efficiency. “Incremental, retrofitted improvements to equipment can, thus, not only increase performance but also reduce costs in a variety of ways.”
Backing the Best
The broad-based black economic-empower- ment (BBBEE) status of Tenova Mining & Minerals – the South African black empowered operating arm of the global TAKRAF group – was reverified in August, with the company receiving a Level 2 BEE status and a BBBEE Procurement Recognition Level of 125%. Davies highlights that this will enable the company’s clients to recognise 125% of the spend as BBBEE procurement from an empowering supplier when they buy from the company.
TAKRAF Africa’s client support services, moreover, provide comprehensive after- market support for materials handling systems, pneumatic conveying, environmental control systems and mineral processing equipment. In addition, the company offers its clients commissioning, upgrades to meet the ever-demanding production needs, refurbishments when and where required, replacements, maintenance, training and ongoing support by equipment specialists, in-house sales and maintenance crews.
TAKRAF Africa completed the redesign and refurbishment of a bucket-wheel reclaimer for an iron-ore mine, in the Northern Cape, in September. The refurbishment of the unit required replacing of the old bucket wheel and shaft with a new-design bucket wheel that is open on the nonreclaiming side, so that there is less chance of material entering the closed wheel and causing a significant increase in weight at the boom tip.
“The most unique feature of the wheel is that it consists of three bolted segments. This design gives the maintenance crew the option to replace only the worn parts of the bucket wheel and not the complete bucket wheel.”
TAKRAF Africa also signed maintenance contracts with a junior opencast coal miner in Mpumalanga for a semi-mobile Bradford Breaker, which undertakes the simultaneous sizing and cleaning of raw coal, this year. Davies notes that the machine, which operates at 300 t/h to break coal lumps of a maximum size of 350 mm down to 80 mm, was ordered based on its low capital cost and ease of transport. “These features are crucial to junior miners who are increasingly exploiting the small coal resources that remain in South Africa.”
Davies stresses that the maintenance contracts provide a one-stop service to keep the machines operating to design specifications. The maintenance contract services range from routine servicing and replacement of worn parts and precautionary remedial action, such as the realignment of components to prevent serious damage, to major on-site overhauls.
Other recent projects in South Africa include refurbishments of a rotary coal breaker, a rapid train load-out system and an apron feeder, as well as the supply of a top and bottom shell for a 60/109 primary gyratory crusher for an iron-ore mine in the Northern Cape. Work completed in 2017 includes the refurbishment of an ultrasep, an upgrade of a circular reclaimer harrow drive unit and a coal stockyard optimisation study for a power station.